Identity of Mother Tongue: Compulsory Linguistic Immigration by Post-colonialism
“Decolonizing the Mind” was written by Ngũgĩ wa Thiong'o to illustrate the theme of imperialism, which led linguistic decolonization. He starts off his essay by presenting his anecdote, remembering the time he used Gĩkũyũ as a child. And he explains the time he realized the beauty of his native language. Most stories he heard by Gĩkũyũ were about the conflicts between nature and animals, which “reflected real-life struggles in the human world” (Ngũgĩ, 341). He believes that language is not just a series of words, and says it has an implicit power that goes beyond the immediate and verbal meaning (Ngũgĩ, 341). Ngũgĩ believes that syllables and words of Gĩkũyũ include music, farming, and culture such as home are the great advantages and beauty. While talking about his attachment to his language, the flow of the story suddenly shifts to the story of the colonial school, where “the harmony was broken” (Ngũgĩ, 341). After the colonial regime, the school banned the students from speaking in Gĩkũyũ and severely punished those who did not use English. From children’s perspectives, using English was a way for them to get praised and remaining as a Gĩkũyũ-speaking friend was “the lucrative value of being a traitor to one’s immediate community” (Ngũgĩ, 342). Therefore, for Ngũgĩ, it was “kairos- ‘the right opportune time to speak or write’” (Grant-Davie, 268) to have a rhetorical discourse. Comment by gyeongwon hwang: I think it would be more helpful if I start by putting my personal experience.
According to “Rhetorical Situations and Their Constituents” by Keith Grant-Davie, exigence asks something to be done, often attributed to a problem, and focusses on the demand for discourse (Grant-Davie, 266). Moreover, the exigence should ask three questions to have rhetorical discourse: “What is the discourse about?” “Why is discourse needed?” and “What is the discourse trying to accomplish?” In Ngũgĩ’s essay, the answers to these three questions are revealing in detail. He clearly wants the audience to think about the concept of linguistic identity which is used to reflect a culture. The language of the region also should be used and reflect one’s culture as he describes everyone as one “being made to stand outside himself to look at himself” (Ngũgĩ, 347). The question of why and what it takes to achieve is explained in the same context. He knew that the linguistic immigration from Gĩkũyũ to English would also make that the beauty and identity of his country. Since “the language of [his] education was no longer the language of [his] culture” (Ngũgĩ, 341), he craves for a way to communicate to present-day children without worrying about losing the beauty of culture in a mother tongue. However, even if Ngũgĩ’s essay answered the questions Grant-Davie’s essay stated, it is impossible to achieve the goal just by...